Rob McWilliams scores 1,000th career point as Ramapo College wins 7th in a row
After a December 11 loss at Kean that dropped the Ramapo College Roadrunners men’s basketball team to an overall record of 3-6 and 0-4 in the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) Head Coach Chuck McBreen had enough. “We sat down and had a coach’s meeting, we were at rock bottom and last in the NJAC,” explained McBreen. “We were in 10th place and said to this team I want to be the first team in the history of this league to go from first to last.”
Facing off against Stockton University at the Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon, the Roadrunners were looking to gain ground on the first place Ospreys as well as extend a six-game winning streak. Off to a flying start, Ramapo jumped out to a 14-3 advantage not even six minutes into the contest. Stockton responded with a 6-0 run that trimmed the deficit to 23-15 with less than 10 minutes left. However, the Roadrunners answered back with a 9-0 over the next four minutes. History was made at 5:38 mark as senior guard Rob McWilliams scored his 1,000th career point by sinking a free throw.
McWilliams on the accomplishment, “It felt great to it with the school’s name on my chest, join a great group of guys who have done it in the school history and something I worked for. I tried not to think about it and knew that I was getting closer this year and focusing on wins this year. From an individual standpoint it’s a really good feeling and worked my butt off for this and finally got it. I didn’t get it in high school so it was one of my goals coming into college but not my main goal.”
Ramapo boosted the margin back up to as many as 17 points before settling for a 40-27 lead at halftime. All five starters scored with senior forward Jordan Zagadou dropping in 9 of his game high 14 points, McWilliams tallying 7 of his 13 points in the contest and sophomore Jason Battle registering 8 of his 13 points on the day. The Roadrunners shot efficiently from the field at 50 percent while holding an advantage in rebounds at 20-15.
McBreen on the team’s play in the first half, “We looked like a great basketball team, came out and made multiple passes. We defended, took charges and got out by 17 or 18 points. The first half of basketball has been good for us lately and coming out and stepping on people and fun to watch. What makes this team so good is we have balanced scoring, Rob, Connor and Jason all averaging double figures and Jordan is playing really good basketball. We’re really good at the five spot and have a transfer in from Felician Manny Warren who can really score the ball.”
“We have players that can put the ball in the basket and what makes it difficult for teams’ to play us and you just can’t key on one guy. We don’t have one guy that goes out and gets 20 plus points and have four or five guys in double figures.”
Coming out of the locker room in the second half, Ramapo continued to shoot the ball effectively stretching the lead to as many as 23 points at the 13-minute mark. Even with a three-minute scoring drought the Roadrunners advantage was never challenged, coasting to the 69-53 victory and winning 7th straight game in a row overall and in the conference and fourth straight at home.
Connor Romano chipped in with 11 points while junior guard Marquise Kindel added 9 points and 9 team high nine rebounds. The Roadrunners won out-rebounded the Ospreys 40-30, won points in the paint 22-18, points off turnovers 17-13, second chance points 10-4 and knocked down 14 of 18 free throws.
“What’s important to our program and philosophy and we were not doing these things early on and very frustrating because we were coaching these guys in the same fashion in the past but it wasn’t working with this group,” said McBreen. “When the light bulb went off this team finally got it and never had a situation like this. Marquise Kindel is averaging double figures and since he has been in the starting lineup we are a totally different team with him right now, happy with the way guys are playing and ben fun to watch them again.”
“If we keep playing good basketball, there is no reason we can’t make the playoffs, get a high seed and have home games here. I don’t want our guys to get ahead of themselves but it’s an old cliché one game at a time and going 1-0 on game day. So disappointing to lose to Rutgers-Newark by three, Montclair (State) by four and Mount Saint Vincent by one and this place (Bradley Center) had been a great home court advantage but it’s slowly getting back to where it was and have the crowds get bigger and energized by the way we are playing. I say to our guys be humble but hungry and stay hungry.”
Rob McWilliams on the win, “We really decided to lock in on defense these last couple of games and been our priority. We knew that we have guys on offense that score the ball so if we handle the defensive end good things will happen and focal point of our practices and been the key last couple of games and try to keep it going. We’re having fun out there, people who have been watching us can tell and it’s different than the five-game losing streak we had.”
Ramapo (11-7, 7-4 NJAC) hits the road for the next two games, starting on Wednesday January 29 at Montclair State (8-10, 6-5 NJAC) with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m. The Red Hawks won the first meeting back on December 4, 80-76. Following Wednesday’s game the Roadrunners head South down to Rowan University on Saturday February 1 at 1:00 p.m.
“You want to be playing your best basketball late and finishing strong and hopefully we can do that,” McBreen said. These two games are going to be very difficult for us and if we’re up to the challenge or not.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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